London, England (SportsNetwork.com) – Novak Djokovic captured the Wimbledon title for the second time and denied Roger Federer a piece of history on Sunday at the All England Club.
Djokovic dropped the first set in the blockbuster final and failed to serve it out in the fourth, but recovered to earn a 6-7 (7-9), 6-4, 7-6 (7-4), 5-7, 6-4 victory. He also won the 2011 Wimbledon championship and now has seven career Grand Slam titles.
Federer, meanwhile, was denied an unprecedented eighth Wimbledon crown. The Swiss superstar remains tied with Pete Sampras for the most men’s titles in the Open Era on the famed lawns of the London suburb.
It appeared to be Djokovic’s match for the taking on Sunday after he won the second and third sets, then grabbed a 3-1 lead in the fourth with a break of serve.
There had been just one break in the first three sets, but the floodgates opened in the fourth as the two traded breaks again to make it 4-2. Federer had a chance to make it four straight breaks, opening a 30-15 lead in the next game, but Djokovic recovered and held for a 5-2 advantage.
After an easy Federer hold, Djokovic had a chance to serve for the match. He quickly fell behind and Federer earned a break point, which he converted with a forehand winner after Djokovic fell while chasing the previous shot.
Djokovic, though, picked up a championship point against Federer’s serve, but an ace saved it for the Swiss superstar and he went on to hold to make it 5-5. Federer then broke serve again for a 6-5 edge when he forced Djokovic into a long forehand, and came away with an easy hold in the next game to send the match to a fifth set.
Federer saved three break points in the eighth game of the decider and held to make it 4-4, but Djokovic also held in the next game and earned a second championship point when a Federer forehand went long. A Federer backhand then found the net on the ensuing point to end the nearly four-hour marathon.
“It was a great match,” said Djokovic in an on-court interview afterward with a nod toward Federer. “Thank you for letting me win today.
“I don’t know how I managed to find the energy in the fifth set. This is the tournament I always wanted to win. I’m so grateful to be able to hold this trophy.”
Djokovic had lost his last three Grand Slam finals, falling to Rafael Nadal in the French Open title match last month after runner-up finishes in both the U.S. Open and Wimbledon last year. He lost to Andy Murray in last year’s title match at the All England Club, and is now 7-7 all-time in major finals.
Federer, meanwhile, dropped to 7-2 in Wimbledon finals and remained stuck on 17 career Grand Slam titles. He hasn’t won a major championship since beating Murray in the 2012 final at the AEC and is now 17-8 all-time in Grand Slam title matches.
“As you can imagine, I’m very disappointed not being rewarded with victory,” said Federer. “Novak deserved it, but it was extremely close.”
The two met for the 35th time and Federer still owns an 18-17 advantage. It was also their fourth meeting this year. Federer has won twice, but both Djokovic wins came in finals, also taking the title at Indian Wells.
There were no breaks of serve in the first set Sunday and Federer took an early 3-0 lead in the tiebreaker, but Djokovic battled back and twice had a set point. Federer saved the first with a forehand down the line and rifled an ace to make it 7-7. He won the next point with a service winner and captured the set when Djokovic fired a backhand into the net.
Federer opened a 30-0 lead in the first game of the second set, but Djokovic again regrouped and won the next three points for the first break point of the match. He fired a shot long and earned another break point soon after, but hit the tape and was again denied before Federer managed to hold.
However, Djokovic picked up another break-point chance in the third game and converted with a backhand pass for a 2-1 lead. He then consolidated the break, although Federer had battled back from 40-0 down to force deuce.
Federer finally secured his first break point while Djokovic was serving for the second set, but a strong serve set up a forehand winner that saved it for the Serb, who then followed with an ace and an overhead to square the match.
There wasn’t a break point in the third set until Federer served at 5-5. He saved the first with an ace, then faced a second and another big serve forced a Djokovic return long. Two more Federer aces made it 6-5. The set went to a tiebreaker and a Federer forehand error gave Djokovic a 5-3 edge. A wide backhand a few moments later gave Djokovic the set.
“It was a match that had everything I think for the fans,” noted Federer. “I don’t feel I played my absolute very best — I didn’t break for three sets. But it was a great match and I enjoyed being part of it.”
It was fitting the match went to a fifth set, especially since the two are so evenly matched. In addition to the 18-17 difference in the all-time series, the two have split 12 all-time Grand Slam meetings and two Wimbledon matchups as well as two Grand Slam final tussles. Federer had won the previous match at the All England Club in a 2012 semifinal, and had also beaten Djokovic in their only prior major final at the 2007 U.S. Open.
Djokovic picked up his 45th career title, as well as a $3 million first prize, and will again ascend to the top ranking in the world on Monday, supplanting Nadal.